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Maryland, West Virginia rivalry is 'very intense'

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COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP)

It didn't take long for Randy Edsall to realize West Virginia isn't just another team on the Maryland football schedule.

''I can remember when I was in here being announced as the head coach. That day I had people telling me, 'You've got to beat West Virginia,''' Edsall recalled this week. ''I understand the importance, them being from a neighboring state, the rivalry that builds.''

Edsall, who took over for Ralph Friedgen in January, and West Virginia first-year coach Dana Holgorsen, the former offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State, on Saturday will put their imprint on a rivalry that dates back to 1919.

Holgorsen will take the 18th-ranked Mountaineers (2-0) on the road for the first time. He isn't completely familiar with West Virginia's history against Maryland (1-0), but he's been doing his research on the guy who will be standing in front of the Terrapins bench.

''I've got total respect for Randy Edsall,'' Holgorsen said. ''I don't know him, but just looking at the bio, where he's been and what he's done and what he accomplished at UConn, he's all about being very disciplined. And I respect that. It doesn't matter what your offense and defense schemes are. It's about being disciplined. They're really good at that.''

Edsall knows all about West Virginia, and his experience facing the Mountaineers has not been pleasant. Edsall went 1-6 against West Virginia while at UConn, the lone win coming in overtime last year.

Maryland, similarly, has not fared well against West Virginia. The Mountaineers have won five straight in the series, including a 31-17 rout last season that wasn't even that close.

''They started real fast on us, got up 14-0 real early. We weren't really prepared like we should have been,'' Terps cornerback Cameron Chism said. ''We got off to a slow start and didn't really start coming back until the second half. So we want to get off early in this one.''

Good idea. Unfortunately for Maryland, the Mountaineers are going to take the same approach, especially after falling behind at halftime against Norfolk State last week before scoring on seven straight possessions en route to a 55-12 win.

''When you're on the road, you've got to try to start fast,'' Holgorsen said. ''They'll be rowdy and they'll have a good crowd and that's a tough place to play. It's hard to get the home crowd out of it. But by starting fast, it's about the only chance you've got.''

Holgorsen knows it won't be easy.

''They've won some games, they've got kids that are used to winning and guys that were highly recruited,'' he said of the Terrapins. ''If we want to consider ourselves a Top 20 team, win a national championship or go to a BCS bowl game, then we've got to beat teams like this. We're looking forward to the challenge.''

Maryland opened the Edsall Era with a 32-24 win over Miami on Sept. 5. Although the Hurricanes were without eight suspended players, it was still an impressive performance by the Terrapins - one they're hoping to build on Saturday.

''It's a big opportunity for us, playing a good team that's ranked,'' quarterback Danny O'Brien said. ''Another opportunity for us to make a statement.''

The Terrapins also get the chance to regain bragging rights in a series that has swayed in West Virginia's favor (24-21-2). Because Maryland doesn't have an annual game against an in-state foe, and because attempts to stir up a duel with Virginia failed to generate interest, this is the closest thing to a rivalry for the Terrapins.

''It's definitely a rivalry game,'' O'Brien insisted. ''I've only been a part of one of them, but it's very intense. There's a lot of electricity in (the locker room) right now. It's a big game for us.''

Terps linebacker Demetrius Hartsfield said, ''I've definitely learned how big this game is. And the fact that they've beaten us five straight years makes us more hungry to win. I don't want to lose to them anymore. I played them once, and losing them to once is good enough for me.''

West Virginia has the ''Backyard Brawl'' with Pittsburgh every year, but that doesn't diminish the importance of beating Maryland.

''It definitely feels like a rivalry game to me,'' said Mountaineers wide receiver Tavon Austin, a Baltimore native who returns to his home state for the first time to play the Terps.

---

AP Sports Writer John Raby in Morgantown, W.Va. contributed to this report.

Tagged: Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia

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